Zulfa Amira Zaed

Published: November 29, 2022

This story is a collaboration with TheJakartaPost journalist Andi M Ibnu Aqil, KompasTV journalist Glenys Octania, KanalDesa-LokadataID freelance journalist Zulfa Amira Zaed, Deutsche Welle and AFP freelance journalist Jon Afrizal supported by Climate Tracker and Internews’ Earth Journalism Network through the Climate and Water Nexus Media Fellowship programs.

Zulfa Amira Zaed & Jon Afrizal/ Jambi

CLIMATE change that is currently happening in Jambi Province, forces the government to make extra efforts. Like flood mitigation, for example. Which aims to overcome the impact of the flood itself.

Data from the Jambi Province Regional Disaster Management Agency (BPBD) stated that there were 363 villages and 77 sub-districts in Jambi Province which were in a flood-prone condition. The flood-prone villages and sub-districts are located in 68 sub-districts in nine regencies and two cities.

In the last week of October 2022, flooding occurred in Batang Masumai District, Merangin Regency. A total of 494 people and 105 housing units were affected by the floods.

“Spots of flooding occurred in all regencies/cities in Jambi Province,” said the Head of the Jambi Provincial BPBD, Bachyuni Deliansyah, at the beginning of the last week of October 2022.

Floods, he said, occurred in watershed areas (DAS) and lowlands. Jambi city which is in the middle, is a lowland.

Meanwhile the highland area, where the Kerinci Seblat National Park (TNKS) is located, is also an area prone to landslides. Namely Sarolangun, Merangin and Kerinci Regencies.

TNKS has an area of 13,750 km² and is located in Jambi, West Sumatra, South Sumatra and Bengkulu Provinces.

However, due to illegal logging and encroachment activities, it is estimated that only 60 percent of the area that is still maintained in the national park.

Whereas, TNKS is included in IUCN category 2, namely as large natural or near natural areas set aside to protect large-scale ecological processes, along with the complement of species and ecosystems characteristic of the area, which also provide a foundation for environmental and culturally compatible spiritual, scientific, educational, recreational and visitor opportunities.

This national park has Mount Kerinci, the highest volcano on the island of Sumatra, with an altitude of 3,805 meter above sea level or 12,484 feet.

Altering landscapes for their undue use is an issue that has been discussed for more than two decades. such as the swamp areas in Jambi City, which were supposed to be catchment areas, but were later converted into residential areas.

“Water that was previously in swamp areas will continue to flow into the area when it rains regardless of whether it is a residential area or not,” said former director of Warsi, Rudi Syaf.

So, flood is human terminology, and not natural language. This is because human intervention has changed the landscape.

Visualization of the highest rainfall data that occurred in Jambi Province according to weatherspark.com

Not only that, rainfall also affects this condition. According to weatherspark.com, the highest rainfall peak in Jambi Province was 203 milli meters on November 27.

While the average rainfall, 88 milli meters to 145 milli meters per month.

In addition, the normalization of rivers, especially the Batanghari River, has not been carried out so far. Although, former vice president Jusuf Kalla reminded the local government to normalize the Batanghari River in mid-March 2015.

Today, almost ten years later, the condition of the Batanghari River is still the same, or even worse than before. So, it is natural that floods always come every year.

The flooding that occurred in Jambi Province is a “pilot area” of the impacts of climate change. Many provinces in Indonesia are also experiencing similar conditions.

The National Research and Innovation Agency (BRIN) professor of climatology, Edvin Aldrian said that in the past three years weather in Indonesia had been rather wet due to the impact of the La Nina phenomenon.

“The El Nino would induce more land and forest fires, while the La Nina would induce flooding,” Edvin said.

He said that Indonesia needs to improve its climate and weather prediction system so that it could anticipate the proper mitigation efforts should either Indonesia face an El Nino or La Nina influenced weather every year.

According to M Habib Dzakwan, Researcher Disaster Management Research Unit Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) Indonesia said that it was apparent that the government was still prioritized climate mitigation rather than climate adaptation in its disaster mitigation policies.

“For example, not a lot of ministries and agencies take seriously information from BMKG such as on weather dynamics or the latest 2022-2023 climate outlook,” Dzakwan said.

He said that the Indonesian government might need a top-down approach to handle climate change. For example, the president could create a coordinating mechanism on handling climate change and capacity building of ministries and agencies to analyze and evaluate the impacts climate change had on their respective ministries/agencies.*